Microsoft are going a bit Mary Whitehouse. They’ve said that people with an Xbox One console will be banned from Xbox Live if they’re found to be using “excessive profanity” while playing games and uploading videos of gameplay using the share function.
Gamers have already noted some heavy handed action, with some having their access to Skype restricted on their next-gen console. One user said: “I get the message ‘Choose something else to play’ simply because I assume MS was not happy about a video I uploaded.”
Microsoft confirmed their stance at TechCrunch, saying that anything uploaded through the Xbox One’s Upload Studio is monitored and that “excessive swearing” is, in their mind, a breach of terms of service.
They said: “To be clear, the Xbox Live Policy & Enforcement team does not monitor direct peer-to-peer communications like Skype chats and calls. Also, we take Code of Conduct moderation via Upload Studio very seriously. We want a clean, safe and fun environment for all users. Excessive profanity as well as other Code of Conduct violations will be enforced upon and result in suspension of some or all privileges on Xbox Live. We remain committed to preserving and promoting a safe, secure and enjoyable experience for all of our Xbox Live members.”
Whether Microsoft are using an automated service to listen in or not remains to be seen. In addition to that, it seems peculiar that a gamer can’t speak freely, especially if you consider some of the fruity language in games like Grand Theft Auto. You can bet that Sony are looking at this and rubbing their hands together as Microsoft have another awkward PR campaign to fix.
As technology gets smarter, the people behind it get sneakier. Take for example, the LG Smart televisions which, it turns out, are able to log viewing information in order to serve targeted ads to its customers.
New research from IT consultant Jason Huntley showed that his new LG Smart TV was targeting adverts at him on his Smart landing screen because they’d slyly been collecting his data. You may think that it is pretty obvious that smart technology would store some data about a user, but there’s a catch.
“There is an option in the system settings called ‘Collection of watching info’ which is set ON by default,” he wrote. “I decided to do some traffic analysis to see what was being sent. It turns out that viewing information appears to be being sent regardless of whether this option is set to ‘on’ or ‘off’.”
Huntley found that the Smart TV recognises when you’re changing channel and logs what you’re watching. This data is sent unencrypted to LG’s servers. On top of that, filenames from an external hard drive attached to the TV also get sent off to LG.
Now, in LG’s defence, there was a corporate video on their website aimed at advertisers which said: “LG Smart Ad analyses user’s favourite programs, online behaviour, search keywords and other information to offer relevant ads to target audiences.” However, LG have removed that from their website, which is a bit suspicious. Either way, this customer profiling is something customers agree to in T&Cs. However, LG are going to look into it.
“Customer privacy is a top priority at LG Electronics and as such, we take this issue very seriously,” said a spokesman. “We are looking into reports that certain viewing information on LG Smart TVs was shared without consent.”
If data is being collected without consent, LG could be found to be breaking the law. Should you want to stop this from happening on your TV, visit DoctorBeet – Huntley’s blog – where he gives advice on ways to shore up you telly.
Tesco have announced that they’re going to be getting really creepy and installing screens at 450 petrol station forecourts which allow advertisers to use facial recognition software while filming your face, so they can glean information about you and tailor which adverts are shown while you queue at tills.
This technology is being deployed in conjunction with Amscreen, who just happens to be owned by Lord Sugar. And you can see their dead-eyed pitch below.
This Minority Report style meddling is known as OptimEyes and it films you before feeding all our faces into a data stream which advertisers can then manipulate.
Defending his technology Sugar said: “Yes, it’s like something out of Minority Report, but this could change the face of British retail and our plans are to expand the screens into as many supermarkets as possible. The OptimEyes does not store images or recognise people but just works out gender and sorts customers into one of three age brackets.”
Changing the face of British retail? Maybe we should all change our faces with masks to muck up this snide device? Either way, Tesco will have this Amscreen deal in place for the next five years.
In what Adobe called “sophisticated attacks”, hackers got access to what they believed was the data for 2.9 million customers. The data included names and encrypted card numbers. However, journalist Brian Krebs said this number was a crock and he should know because he’s seen the list of hacked details himself!
Adobe spokeswoman Heather Edell confirmed what Krebs already knew and said: ”So far, our investigation has confirmed that the attackers obtained access to Adobe IDs and (what were at the time valid) encrypted passwords for approximately 38 million active users. We are still in the process of investigating the number of inactive, invalid and test accounts involved in the incident.”
Edell also noted that the hackers made off with some of the source code for Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Acrobat, Reader, and ColdFusion.
To apologise, Adobe is offering one year’s worth of free credit monitoring by Experian to anyone who had their account compromised in the attack. As Adobe might not get around to all customers, it would be beneficial for you to place fraud alerts on your accounts and keep an eye on things in the meantime.
The contempt Facebook has for its customers is borderline impressive. At every turn, every redesign, every time they meddle with the privacy settings, it seems to be in direct conflict with the people who use the social network.
And now, Facebook is getting rid of a privacy feature that let users limit who can find them on them.
The company said that they are removing a setting that controls whether you can be found when people type their name into the website’s search bar.
Say hello to that clingy, obsessive ex of yours! They’ve been waiting.
Facebook reckon that only a single-digit percentage of the 1.2 billion people on its network were actually using the setting, so basically, if they delete their account in protest, Facebook don’t give a fig. If you want to protect your privacy, Facebook suggest that you limit the audience for each thing you post about yourself, whatever that means.
Either way, there’s no point moaning about it because Facebook aren’t listening and aren’t at all bothered about what you think, unless they can turn it into ad revenue. Ho hum.
istouchidhackedyet.com is offering $15,000 with loads of whisky and a sexy book thrown in. And some Bitcoins.
The excitingly named Arturas Rosenbacher, founding partner of I/O Capital who donated $10,000 to the competition said that this isn’t a nasty hack: “This is to fix a problem before it becomes a problem. This will make things safer.”
Of course, there are no real issues with the technology as yet, but other versions of have been bypassed with a variety of methods.
Remember the Gummy Bear hack? Tsutomu Matsumoto came up with a method where hi-res photographed fingertips transferred onto a fake finger made from gelatine fooled sensors 80% of the time. That’s a huge faff though. Some people have stored their dog’s nose or cat’s paw in their phone to unlock it.
There are privacy concerns, with letting a company store data concerning your fingerprints. If Apple harvest all your fingerprints, bad things could occur and people are especially jumpy after all those NSA leaks. While it shouldn’t be too difficult to hack the security on a mobile, the concern should really regard what Apple are going to do with all this information.
They want to see the ISPs signing -up to a scheme which will see them handing over details of those who are downloading music illegally.
BT, Virgin Media, BSkyB and TalkTalk have been asked by the BPI and British Video Association to sign up to a voluntary code to create a database of file sharers, however, it doesn’t seem likely that the ISPs will want to annoy their customers, so this’ll probably fizzle away like all previous attempts.
Again, the ‘three strikes’ rule is being floated, where customers will be sent some letters advising them to legally download things, before a final warning of some kind of sanction and “ultimately prosecution.”
Virgin and Talk Talk are both resisting the collection of user data, with Talk Talk pointing out that this kind of activity is dubious under the Data Protection Act.
“We are involved in discussions about measures to address illegal file-sharing and ultimately would like to reach a voluntary agreement. However our customers’ rights always come first and we would never agree to anything that could compromise them,” said a spokesperson for Talk Talk.
Over at Virgin; “Music and film companies are speaking to broadband providers about how to address illegal file-sharing but what they’re currently proposing is unworkable.”
The list of account holders was leaked anonymously onto hacker site, Pastebin and it apparently shows thousands of user names, partially obscured passwords and email addresses.
“It has come to our attention that there were some reports circulating on the internet today suggesting that a small number of user names and passwords to the MyFoxtons web portal were briefly posted to a website. We have been able to download the list of usernames and passwords that were posted and are currently running checks to determine its veracity,” said Foxtons in a statement.
Foxtons don’t seem to know how many users have been affected, but their warning email to customers was labelled ‘part one’, so investigations are obviously ongoing.
Mercifully, no financial information has been compromised, but users are advised to change their passwords.
Sending a message to your mate with a Gmail account? Well, Google have said – remarkably – that users have no “reasonable expectation” that their communications are confidential.
These words come from a court paper, found by Consumer Watchdog. ”Google has finally admitted they don’t respect privacy,” said John Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s privacy project director. “People should take them at their word; if you care about your email correspondents’ privacy, don’t use Gmail.”
Google defended themselves in a case last month from accusations that they had broken wire tap laws when it scans emails sent from non-Google accounts. The lawsuit said that Google “unlawfully opens up, reads, and acquires the content of people’s private email messages”.
“Unbeknown to millions of people, on a daily basis and for years, Google has systematically and intentionally crossed the ‘creepy line’ to read private email messages containing information you don’t want anyone to know, and to acquire, collect, or mine valuable information from that mail.”
Google said the plaintiffs were making “an attempt to criminalise ordinary business practices” and that “all users of email must necessarily expect that their emails will be subject to automated processing.”
Google added: “Just as a sender of a letter to a business colleague cannot be surprised that the recipient’s assistant opens the letter, people who use web-based email today cannot be surprised if their communications are processed by the recipient’s ECS [electronic communications service] provider in the course of delivery.”
What do you make of that then? Outrageous privacy invasion or do you just assume the internet is filled with dubious stuff like this and it’s better if you ignore it and get on with your life?
Tracking service, Renew London, had fitted their devices into 12 bins to collect footfall data by tracking signals from people wandering past with their phones. These smartbins are around the City of London and obtain a unique identification number (or a MAC address if you’re into that sort of thin) for anything nearby that has WiFi switched on.
With the information, advertisers can then send out targeted commercials on the bins.
However, people weren’t keen on this and privacy campaigners – Big Brother Watch – raised concerns to the City of London Corporation and asked them to put an end to these bins. Despite the strict cookie laws, tracking phones is still a legal grey area in the UK and many think that it is an invasion of privacy.
As such, they’ve been binned off.
Renew’s chief executive Kaveh Memari said the company had “stopped all trials in the meantime” and added that the devices had only recorded “extremely limited, encrypted, aggregated and anonymised data” and that the bins were just “glorified people-counters in the street.”
Dating profiles are a murky business at the best of times, with men and women announcing their loneliness for all to see, while simultaneously trying to pass off the idea that they’re actually rather charming, interesting and not-at-all sat in their pants every night, watching boxsets and picking Dorito crumbs out of their fat-rolls.
Well, on top of all those rejections, fruitless wanks and desperate explanations that Honestly, I’m Not A Creep, Not Like Those Others, it seems that your whole profiles may well be getting sold on.
Probably including those ghastly nude photo attachments.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the data protection watchdog, is investigating the sale of 10,000 online dating profiles which could be “a significant breach of data protection principles”.
The data was sold by Usdate which includes photos, names, email addresses, dates of birth and details of sexual orientation. Interestingly, one of the profiles belonged to a member of the House of Lords, which was probably the most sordid thing on the internet.
Simon Entwisle, director of operations at the ICO, said it is a breach of data protection law if someone sells your information without consent and if the information is inaccurate: ”If you’re talking about significant numbers of names, that’s a significant breach of the data protection principles potentially. It’s concerning to see that there appear to be sites which, as a matter of course, are falling far short of the legal standards for ensuring information is accurate and up to date.”
As a result of this, and the generally vague t&cs that surround most websites, the investigation is now looking at eHarmony, match.com, Cupid and Global Personals to see if there is anything afoot there.
As such, they’re urging everyone who use the same passwords on other online accounts to change them immediately.
It all happened on Friday in what Lakeland described as “a sophisticated and sustained attack” and customers were informed yesterday when the company discovered two encrypted databases had been accessed.
Tony Preedy, the marketing director, said: “Our experts analysing the situation have not been able to confirm whether any data has been taken but we decided it was appropriate to tell customers there was a risk. We had not left the doors unlocked, so to speak, but nevertheless they were able to penetrate.”
The hackers are probably got into the databases thanks to a recently identified flaw in the Java software used by the servers running the Lakeland website.
Microsoft have been in cahoots with NSA on the controversial Prism operation. Secret files that have emerged show that Bill Gates’ crew unlocked Outlook.com’s encryption before official launch of the operation and that Skype worked to enable Prism collection of video calls.
Reports reckon Microsoft have been collaborating closely with US intelligence services which allows communications to be intercepted.
The documents show that Microsoft helped the NSA to circumvent its encryption and that the agency already had pre-encryption stage access to emails. Access was also granted to the 250 million users of SkyDrive and that Microsoft allowed the NSA such access that they were able to triple the amount of Skype video calls they could collect.
Information collected through Prism was routinely shared with the FBI and CIA, with one NSA document describing it as a “team sport”.
In a statement, Microsoft said: “When we upgrade or update products we aren’t absolved from the need to comply with existing or future lawful demands.”
This is at odds with Microsoft’s latest marketing campaign, which says: “Your privacy is our priority.”
Internal NSA newsletters which have been leaked suggest this co-operation is deep and ongoing.
In its statement to the Guardian, Microsoft said: “We have clear principles which guide the response across our entire company to government demands for customer information for both law enforcement and national security issues. First, we take our commitments to our customers and to compliance with applicable law very seriously, so we provide customer data only in response to legal processes.”
“Second, our compliance team examines all demands very closely, and we reject them if we believe they aren’t valid. Third, we only ever comply with orders about specific accounts or identifiers, and we would not respond to the kind of blanket orders discussed in the press over the past few weeks, as the volumes documented in our most recent disclosure clearly illustrate.”
“Finally when we upgrade or update products legal obligations may in some circumstances require that we maintain the ability to provide information in response to a law enforcement or national security request. There are aspects of this debate that we wish we were able to discuss more freely. That’s why we’ve argued for additional transparency that would help everyone understand and debate these important issues.”
The Guardian has the full report
Google have already been harangued over their collection of data, with privacy authorities from European and the USA asking for clarification about data protection concerns regarding Google Glass. Everyone’s worried that the search giant will be able to take pictures without users knowing. There’s also the small matter of Google being implicated in the row about NSA’s Prism program.